“Your husband?” Ify asked as she glanced between them in shock.
Beatrice nodded but didn’t speak. There was total silence for a moment. Then Johnson began to weakly lose his grip on Ify in pain. Ify held him and looked pleadingly at Beatrice. “He’s in pain.”
Beatrice nodded and they helped him to her car and drove off to her house. Ify helped him to the long couch in the living room and left. She came back with a bowl of water and a towel and began to tend to his wounds. He winced.
“Sorry.” Ify said and continued tending him.
Meanwhile, Beatrice paced in front of them as she glared at Johnson, with all pent up hurt and hatred over the years. Johnson carefully avoided her eyes.
“How do you feel now?” Ify asked as she dropped the towel in the bowl, done.
“Better, thank you.” Johnson replied.
“Good.” Beatrice said and gave him a dirty slap. Johnson screamed in pain.
“That was for abandoning us.” She continued, breathing hard like a grampus.
“Did you have to do that? He is in pain already.” Ify said, shocked.
“I don’t care.” Beatrice replied and turned angrily to Johnson. “Get out.”
“Bea…” Johnson began.
“Shut up and get out of my house!”
Johnson sighed sadly and stood up to leave, swaying a little.
“Wait, are you sure you’ll be alright on your own?” Ify asked him.
“What are you doing?” Beatrice turned coldly to her.
“Auntie, look at him. He’s not strong enough to leave.”
“And how is that my business?”
“It’s okay, my dear. You have done more than enough for me. I’ll be fine.” Johnson said. He took a step to leave and fell. Ify ran and helped him back to the couch.
“You see? You’re not fine.” She said. “Can you call your family to come and take you home?”
“I don’t have any family.” Johnson replied.
Beatrice scoffed. “What about what’s her name? Sharon, the woman you disappeared with?”
“We broke up a long time ago.”
“Why? Did you dump her too?” Beatrice mocked.
“No.” Johnson muttered.
Beatrice laughed wickedly. “Oh, she dumped you… let me guess, after she ate all your money? Karma really is a bitch.”
“What about your friends? We can call them to come and pick you.” Ify said.
“I don’t have any friends.” Johnson replied shamefully.
“Neighbors, nko. Don’t you have a neighbor’s number?”
“I don’t have neighbors.”
“Where do you live then? A cave?” Beatrice mocked him.
“I don’t have a place to live?” Johnson’s voice was so quiet they almost didn’t hear him.
Both women went silent. Johnson couldn’t meet their gaze.
“Wait, you mean you’re homeless?” Ify asked.
Johnson nodded. Ify looked at Beatrice.
“What?” Beatrice asked. Then she shook her head. “Mm-mm. No way. He’s not staying in my house.”
“And so? It’s not my problem.”
“Ify please… please stay out of this. You have no idea what this man did to me and my daughter.” Beatrice said firmly.
“I am sorry, Beatrice.” Johnson said.
“Take your sorry and get out of my house. I don’t want your karma to pollute this place.”
“Auntie, I know I have no right to interfere in your business. Apart from my mother, you’re the most wonderful woman I know. Yes, he wronged you. Karma is dealing with him now. But whatever wrong he has done to you, don’t pay him back by kicking him out to the streets. Look at him. He is in no condition to be out in the streets. Please let him stay, at least until he recovers.”
Beatrice glared at her. Ify looked back at her, doe eyed. Beatrice looked at Johnson. Then she turned to Ify and said. “Alright he can stay but only until he is strong enough. That’s it.”
Ify beamed at her. “Thank you, Auntie. God bless you.”
Beatrice smiled back. She looked at Johnson and frowned. “You are lucky you have Ify here to defend you. I’m only doing this for her. She is the only one that can make me do this.”
“Thank you, Beatrice.” He looked at Ify. “Thank you very much my daughter. I won’t forget your kindness.”
“You’re welcome.” Ify said and helped him lie back down on the couch. Beatrice turned to leave.
“Beatrice?” Johnson called softly.
She turned back to him.
“I know I don’t deserve to ask. But how have you been?” He asked.
“I’m still here.” She replied.
The silence that greeted him was chilly. Beatrice was frozen like a statue. Even Ify stood very still. Johnson glanced at them, confused.
“What happened? Where is she?”
Beatrice remained frozen with grief. Ify shook her head sadly, eyes glistening. Johnson’s eyes widened in sudden realization.
He shook his head in disbelief. “No. No. She’s gone? Dead? Nene is dead–”
“Don’t you ever mention her name. You have no right. You. Have. No. Right.” Beatrice cut him off harshly and abruptly walked out. Ify stood awkwardly for a moment and left. Alone, Johnson broke down and wept for a daughter he had callously left a long time ago.
And as the days followed and the estranged couple, Beatrice and Johnson mourned, Ify continued her quest to contact her family. But it proved to be very difficult. The queen had infiltrated everywhere. None of her people could recognize her. Anytime she approached any of her family, her face always changed to someone else.
Even her friends were not left out. She had gone to the company where she worked to see them. The queen was there, of course, posing as her. She had watched miserably from a distance as the queen enjoyed lunch with them. They had looked straight at her but couldn’t recognize her. The queen had smirked insolently at her and turned back to gist with her friends.
Ify wondered what she had done wrong to deserve such punishment. In a flash, her perfect life had turned to a nightmare. All her life, she had tried to live right. Her predicament could have been excused as karma if she had done something horrible.
Then a miracle happened. She had bought a loaf of bread and was leaving a supermarket when she spotted Tony fueling his car at the filling station opposite the supermarket. Her heart pounded excitedly. But she hesitated, not wanting to be disappointed in case he didn’t recognize. As if he could sense her, Tony looked up and saw her. She didn’t know when she smiled widely and waved at him. He smiled and waved back! Ify couldn’t believe it. Tony recognized her!
For the first time, she felt hope coursing through her. She ran across the road, straight into his arms and held him tight, crying in joy.
“I’ve missed you so much, baby.” She said as she stared up at him.
“I’m sorry.” Tony said, confused. “Have we met before?”
Ify felt the sweet hope disappear and replaced with cold dread. “You don’t recognize me?” Her eyes caught her reflection from his car window and her face crumpled in despair. It was the same strange face that stared back at her.
“Baby, what’s taking you so long?” The queen said as she approached them.
Tony quickly stepped back, guiltily. “Nothing, babe. It’s…”
“Oh, I know you.” The queen smiled at Ify. “You’re the girl who came to our house the other day. Babe, I told you about her. She got sick and mom and I took her to the hospital.”
“Yes, that’s right. I remember.” Tony replied.
“How’s your health now?” The queen asked Ify in all innocence.
Ify blinked at her. For some reason, she couldn’t speak. The queen smiled sweetly at her. “Well, I’m glad you’re fine now.” She turned to Tony. “Babe, we have to go or we’ll be late for our counselling.”
Counselling! Ify screamed in her head. So, it was happening. Tony was going to marry this evil marine queen. The queen was getting married in her place!
“NO!” Ify screamed in her head.
“Nice to meet you.” Tony said to her.
She still couldn’t speak out loud when Tony and the queen entered the car. She watched helplessly as they drove away. Only then did she recover her voice. By then, it was too late. They were gone.
Later, Beatrice saw her sitting at the front porch of the house and staring vacantly into space.
“How did it go?” She asked.
“I met Tony, my fiance today.” Ify said quietly
“He doesn’t recognize me.”
Beatrice sighed and went to sit beside her.
“I did as you said.” Ify said, defeated. “I tried again and again and again. Yet each time, she is there. She is everywhere. She took my family, my friends, my fiance, my life. Everything.”
“I refuse to believe that. Surely there is always a way to get everything back.”
“How?” Ify asked, frowning.
“This is a spiritual matter. Have you considered consulting someone?”
The door opened and Johnson stepped out. The women stopped and stared at him. Although he still walked with a limp, he looked better than before.
“Do you need anything, sir?” Ify asked him.
“No, I’m fine. I’m sorry to interrupt. I just wanted some fresh air.” He apologized.
“It’s okay.” Ify replied.
“Are you alright my dear? You look so sad.” Johnson said, concerned.
“I am. But I will be fine.”
“Is there someway I can help.”
Ify smiled sadly. “Thanks for offering. But there’s nothing you can do to help me.”
“Try me.” He insisted.
Ify hesitated. “Well, I’m trying to get my life back from someone who took it from me. But I can’t because the person is too powerful.”
“Hmm… that’s a very difficult situation to be.” Johnson said.
“You see, I told you, you can’t help.”
Johnson raised his eyebrows. “But I can.”
“No, you can’t. This person I’m talking about, she isn’t ordinary. She ageless, very powerful and she calls herself–”
“The queen.” Johnson concluded.
Both women stared at him, stunned.
“She’s just intimidating you to stop you from disrupting her plans. But she isn’t as powerful as you think.” He said.
“Are you sure we’re talking about the same queen?” Ify asked skeptically.
“She’s the queen of the coast, goddess of the sea and mother of all–”
“Existence.” Ify finished. Her eyes were round as saucers. “You really do know her.”
“Yes, I do.” Johnson replied. “The queen is a very powerful and vindictive sea goddess. Her symbol is a large python. Before Christianity and Islam, she had one of the largest numbers of worshipers. She still does, only not as many as before. And that makes her worried because she loses her power anytime she loses worshipers. What she does now is to select young, lovely, gifted people- preferably females…” He stared pointedly at Ify “… who are strong and can command attention anywhere with their charms. She places such people in strategic positions where she can control everything and everyone through them. That’s how she gets followers to fuel her power. “
“Apparently, she found you worthy and you turned her down.” He continued. “The queen doesn’t like to be turned down. The thing is once she singles you out, you have no choice. If you refuse, she will strike like a python.”
“Wow.” Ify blinked at the unsettling revelation. “But it’s not by force now. I didn’t ask for any of this.”
“You don’t have to ask anything. What the queen wants, the queen gets.”
“So, you’re saying I’m doomed?”
“That’s how it looks.” Johnson said, solemnly.
“You’re a big help. Thank you very much.” Beatrice said, sarcastically.
Ify went between fear and anger. “That’s it? I’m going to live the rest of my life knowing that someone else is living my life and there’s nothing I can do about it. Nothing I do will ever work because she sees and knows everything. She even knows what we’re doing now as we speak.”
“Yes, or how else do you think she always seems to be ahead of you?”
Back at Ify’s family house, the queen was doing the dishes, her head corked as if she was listening to a conversation. She smiled. So the little, ungrateful urchin was back?
Back at Beatrice’ front porch, Ify paced all over the place, agitated. “So what’s the point? If she already knows what we are doing right now, what is the point planning anything against her when she will already know about it anyway?”
“Of course we can do something. There’s always hope.”
“What can we do?”
“We destroy her.”
Ify scoffed. “How do you kill an immortal, all powerful goddess of the sea?”
“She doesn’t have to be dead to be destroyed.”
Ify stopped and stared at him in sudden understanding. “You mean we can destroy her powers and send her back to where she can’t hurt us anymore?”
Ify gave him a determined look. “Then I’m with you. Tell me what to do.”
To be continued… Please share this post.